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Cablegate: No Change On Baha'i Case: Deportation Still

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #1540 2591314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151314Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0314
INFO RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0280
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SANAA 001540

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA/ARP FOR AMACDONALD; DRL FOR JBARGHOUT/JKERN; PRM FOR
ETHIBAULT/EHARRIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF KIRF YM
SUBJECT: NO CHANGE ON BAHA'I CASE: DEPORTATION STILL
PLANNED TO COUNTRY OF THEIR CHOOSING

REF: SANAA 1521

1. (SBU) Summary: There continues to be no change in the
ROYG's position vis a vis the detained Baha'is. The
President has officially signed an order calling for the
deportation of the four detainees to the country of their
choice. UNHCR has still not been granted access to the
prisoners, putting on hold the US resettlement process. End
Summary

2. (SBU) Consistent with the information reported in reftel,
the ROYG continues to push for the deportation of the four
detained Baha'is. On September 14, lawyers and members of
the Yemeni Baha'i community told Poloff that President Saleh
signed an order to deport the detainees to the country of
their choice. No date was specified for the deportation.

3. (SBU) Also during the September 14 meeting, lawyers of the
detainees told Poloff that corruption, not religious
persecution, was the cause of the arrests. The lawyers
alleged that Hawk International, an oil company employing
detainee Behrooz Rohani, refused to pay eight million dollars
in a concession deal to relatives of the President, most
notably NSB Deputy Director and Presidential nephew, Ammar
Saleh. After Hawk International won its case in court,
Rohani was arrested in retaliation. When Poloff asked why
Rohani was targeted and why other Baha'is with no relation to
the company were arrested with him, the lawyers said that as
Executive Manager of Hawk International, Rohani was thought
to be the "mastermind" of the deal and that others were
arrested to justify Rohani's arrest under the pretext that
Baha'is were proselytizing. A member of the Sana'a Baha'i
community, Badiuallah Sanai, agreed that this business deal
was the cause for the arrests.

4. (SBU) UNHCR senior protection officer Samer Haddadin
reported to Poloff on September 15 that UNHCR has still not
been granted access to the detainees. As access has not been
granted, UNHCR has not provided resettlement applications to
the detainees, putting the US resettlement process on hold.

5. (SBU) Comment: Post frequently hears reports of
retaliatory arrests linked to (often corrupt) financial deals
gone awry. While we have no evidence this is the case with
the current group of detainees, it may explain why President
Saleh involved himself directly in the case by signing the
deportation order. Post will continue to ask the ROYG to
release the arrested Baha'is, but as an interim step will
also press the ROYG to grant UNHCR officials access to the
prisoners. End Comment
SECHE

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